When you’re having a problem – sometimes talking to someone who relates can help.
Student Health Services, through Spartan Well-Being, now offers Well-Being Coaching, a peer-to-peer and certified-staff led coaching service. Student peer guides – who are trained, supported, and supervised through a full-time staff coaching coordinator – coach students through their concerns.
STUDENT TO STUDENT
The student peer guides are not certified coaches, but can help support students with things like goal setting, sleep hygiene, self care, decision making skills and more. Sessions last 45 to 60 minutes and are private and virtual. Peer guides participate in several days of training learning motivational interviewing techniques, active listening skills, multicultural awareness, and referral processes.
“The coaching program acts as a step-up service as well as a step-down service,” says Shahnaz Khawaja, the Associate Director for Spartan Well-Being. “So, a person might meet with a coach, and discuss what they would like to work on or, if they need additional help and support, a coach can help them sort through the options.”
Khawaja says the coaching program can be an alternative to counseling as some students may not need to be seen by a mental health professional and may be able to resolve challenges while working with a coach. Others may need mental health counseling and coaching can be adjunctive. A coach can help them stay on track with goals and with symptom management while the student continues to work with a mental health counselor.
Sophomore Vladimir Jerome is one of the peer guides and says he applied for the job as a way to get involved on campus.
“I like talking to people, and feeling like I can change something for someone feels pretty good,” says Jerome, who is studying business administration. “It’s great to talk to someone who is in the same situation as you because, especially in spring semester, everyone’s stressed out and tired.”
For sophomore peer guide Laya Faulk – she is not only helping others but growing her skills and confidence as well.
“I have social anxiety and it helps me when it comes to talking with other people calmly,” says Faulk. “Whenever I’m talking to them about their problems, it kind of helps me with my own problems too.”
Faulk says being a peer guide will also help her with her career goals as well. As an Asian studies major, she plans to eventually go to Japan or China and teach English.
Being a peer guide is junior Quanaisha Rogers’ first job. For her, the service is something that was needed for students on campus.
“There’s so many students that are lost and don’t know where to go to get help,” Rogers says. “With us being here, we can give them that little push.”
BE WELL AND THRIVE
Spartan Well-Being offers a variety of services to help students – some of that support is through passive programming.
“Students don’t have to be present and engaged with a staff member to receive the help and support that passive programming offers,” says Khawaja.
These types of programs include Mindful Mondays – an initiative to help students start off on the right foot each week and Fun Fridays to help students think about their well-being going through the weekend. Wellness Wednesdays are more active programming for Spartan Well-Being including tabling[SK7] around campus, workshops, and decompression spaces. Spartan Well-Being also offers support groups on a variety of topics.
“We have fun groups like mindful walking where you come together with other students and learn how to get connected with your body in the middle of a busy school day,” Khawaja says. “It brings you to the five senses and is a really grounding experience within your body.”
Spartan Well-Being is all about setting students up for holistic wellness, helping them learn “how to be well and thrive, not just survive, during their time on campus.”
Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
CONNECT WITH A PEER GUIDE!